[ExI] Coal Gasification and CO2 (was Re: Whatever happened to peak oil by 2020?)

spike spike at rainier66.com
Mon May 13 18:07:48 UTC 2013



From: extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org
[mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Kelly Anderson


>.Ok, I think I'm following along... but if all you need is energy and raw
materials, why start with Coal?


You don't have to use coal, but that is likely the cheapest carbon source
and the one most likely to be economically viable with a wind and GB solar
driven carbon to liquids process.



>. Why not start with CO2 sucked from the atmosphere (should make the greens


Wrong-o.  Nothing will make the greens happy.  But I digress.  The reason
you wouldn't take CO2 out of the air is that it takes too much energy.
There is a possibility of using natural gas from fracking operations as a
carbon source.  This one is possibly more viable than coal.  Another
possibility is biomass, but this takes more energy than coal conversions.
Biomass does pull down CO2 and brings in the hydrogen as well, so in that
sense it might help get some political and investor support.  A combination
biomass and coal conversion plant is a possibility.  


Regarding greens, unfortunately politics gets all mixed up in there, and
politics will destroy anything it touches.


>. Yes, you have more latent energy in the coal, but if the energy is really
free, then why not just create it from the atmosphere and bag the whole
disagreeable matter of mining coal in the first place? You might even be
able to produce liquid Oxygen as a nice side benefit.-Kelly



The energy isn't free except in the thought experiment.    


Here's how we unify the notions of the EROI and energy cliff.  We can do the
math and realize the concept of EROI is telling us something important, and
the energy cliff is real.  But my notion is that we can be OK in it if we
see it coming and invest in energy infrastructure now while we have abundant
cheap energy.  If we do that enough, then when the red queen effect becomes
perfectly obvious to the casual observer, we will already have enough wind
and solar powered coal to liquids infrastructure to power more wind and
solar powered coal to liquids infrastructure.  Then we should be OK.


My question: are we doing the preliminary installation fast enough?  My
intuition and BOTECs tell me we are not.  What worries me is that free
markets may not be sufficient to anticipate and proact.  We already know
that governments cannot and will not.



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